tv Meet the Press MSNBC September 20, 2010 4:00am-5:00am EDT
the end of a turbulent primary scene. what impact will candidates like christine o'donnell and backers like sarah palin have on the mid term election? plus anti-muslim sentiment in the country. how has america's role in the world changed? we'll ask our exclusive guest, secretary of state to president george w. bush, general colin powell. then, another leader on the world stage, president bill clinton prepares to hold his sixth annual clinton global initiative meeting, to tackle the most pressing problems. plus, what's ahead for
democrats in november? can president obama turn things around and the future of the economy. our conversation with former economy. our conversation with former president bill clinton. captions paid for by nbc-universal television good morning. social conservative activists gathered this weekend in washington for their annual values voters summit, attracting a field of potential candidates. winning the straw poll for president, sarah palin finished fifth but did not opt to attend a keynote event, where she has rallied behind tea party candidates, leaving the establishment reeling. mid-term primaries are over and the tea party won. >> when the people fear the government, there is tyranny. when the government fears the people, there is liberty. >> christine o'donnell's triumph
in delaware is the latest example of the purge inside the gop. incumbents, moderates, members of the establishment are gone or have left the party. the message is, stop spending, stop taxing, stop borrowing. >> we have come to take our government back. >> gop leaders in washington are riding a tiger. some seasoned republican voices fear it will cost the party. >> i've got to tell you, we -- i -- we were looking to eight to nine seats in the senate. we're now looking seven to eight in my opinion. this is not a race we'll be able to win. >> it requires the gop to adjust to a new reality. >> republicans better be very inclusive and open their arms and their minds to the message they're hearing from the grassroots across the country. >> led by sarah palin, emerged as a king maker this season,
they may urge voters to get out in the fall. but what's the longer impact? >> when it comes to general election, that means they can nominate who will necessarily appeal to the broad center of the electorate. >> that's the big question. can they win in 2010 and even in 2012 without a bigger tent? joining me now, a man who has served this country under four presidents, most recently, of course, as secretary of state under president george w. bush, general colin powell, welcome back to "meet the press." >> thank you, david. >> i want to start with politics. what do you make of what's happened in the republican party this week? >> i think the tea party movement and at this point i think it's still a movement and not a party with an agenda, has tapped into an anxiety and anger that exists throughout the country. they are not just mad at president barack obama and his administration, they're mad at democrats and they're mad at incumbent republicans. and so i think it is a fascinating change in our political life to see this kind of movement gain such momentum
and strength and this is good. people want to see this. but at the same time, this movement doesn't become a real force until it starts to talk to the issues. i want to cut spending. i want to have lower tackxes, b how do you do that? you can't just have slogans or catchy phrases. you have to have an agenda. if it's going to incorporate the tea party efforts in it, it has to come up with an agenda the american people can see, touch and believe in and actually believe in. >> it was called a fad, akin to what ross perot was advocating back in 1992. do you see it that way? >> it may well be a fad unless it converts itself from a movement into something that is a real political organization that takes stands on positions. right now, what do they really believe in? we all believe in the constitution. we all want lower taxes, less spending, lower deficit, everything else, more freedom. at the same time, how do you get
all of that? and at the same time make sure that we are investing in our children, investing in our infrastructure. how do we bring the deficit down by cutting spending? and where do we cut that spending? it's not enough to just say let's do it. you have to have more than slogans. >> this time a year ago, you were in a feud with former vice president cheney, with rush limbaugh about the nature of the republican party. this is what you said in may of 2009. rush limbaugh says get out of the republican party, he was talking to you. dick cheney says he's already out, speaking about you. i may be out of their version of the republican party, but there's another version of the republican party waiting to emerge once again. that was a year ago. is the tea party what you had in mind? >> i have to point out that mr. cheney pulled that comment back a few weeks later and said maybe i should stay in the party if i chose to remain in the party. i'm kind of like a mike bloomberg in that he has shifted back and forth. i consider myself a moderate republican. i have very, very moderate social views and are pretty
strong on defense matters and i think there's a party in there that wants to come out. if the republican party is going to come out in a way that mike bloomberg is talking about and others are talking about, they've got to take a hard look at some of the positions they've been taking. we can't be anti-immigration, for example. immigrants are fueling this country. without immigrants, america would be like europe or japan with an aging population and no young people coming in to take care of it. we have to it educate our immigrants. the dream act is one way to do that. >> explain that a little bit. >> the dream act, in a nutshell, says if you are a young person and you were brought here by your parents and you're an illegal status, if you finish high school and we will give you a six-year temporary residency. if during those six years you finish two years of college or you go into the military service for two years, then you're on a path to citizenship. that's good. america is going to be a minority nation in one more generation. our minorities are not getting educated well enough now. 50% of our minority kids are not
finishing high school. we have to invest in education. we should use the dream act as one way to do it. whether or not it should be part of the defense bill is another -- >> talking about immigration in a rather hardline way. former governor romney speaking about it at that values' voter summit, talking about it recently. >> we have serious enemies and going threats around the world. unfortunately, we have an administration whose idea of a rogue state is arizona. >> and what's happening in arizona is something that's animating the republicans right now. >> the american people want their borders to be protected. there's nothing wrong with that. there's nothing wrong with making sure that people come across our borders, particularly our southern border, in a legal, safe manner. at the same time, we have millions and millions of illegal immigrants in our country, undocumented individuals, who are working, who are doing things we need done in this country. they're all over my house, doing things making repairs. i'm sure you've seen them at
your house. we have to find a way to bring these people out of the darkness and give them some kind of status. in the next few years, you will discover that between the ages of 16 to 64, working ages of our people, most of those are going to be kept in that age group because of immigration and the children of immigrants, whereas in other parts of the world, the age of the population is getting older and fewer people are working. i'm telling you and i'm telling all of my citizens around the country is that immigration is what's keeping this country's lifeblood moving forward. they enrich our culture with every generation. we have to find a way to protect our borders and at the same time treat our immigrant population with respect, dignity and give them a path to citizenship. >> let me talk about the status of the republican party and ask you most directly, do you consider yourself a republican? >> yes. why shouldn't i? >> have you thought about leaving the party at any point? >> no, not really. i still think there is a need for a two-party system and that the republican party still has strength in it.
it has the strength with respect to its feelings about foreign policy and defense policy and our place in the world. and i'm not happy with the rightward shift that the party has taken. i said it on many occasions. i said it in 2008 on this program. i am not about to give up. we'll see what happens in this election and over the next two years as we head into 2012 as to what kind of party is actually going to be running as opposed to just being a movement. >> as you know, one of the most animating forces in the party is sarah palin. i made a reference to her at a ronald reagan dinner in iowa over the weekend, campaigning across the country, advocating across the country as she did in delaware, which helped christine o'donnell get elected. what is her impact right now on the republican party, and does it bother you? >> she's a star. it doesn't bother me. she is out there, mixing it up, conveying her views, animating people to come forward and participate in the political process. i didn't think she was ready to be president of the united
states in 2008 and i'm not sure she would be in 2012, but there's nothing wrong with former governor palin getting out there, presenting her views and animating american political life. people seem to suggest or think that this is something new and wild. but if you look at our history, we have had movements like this throughout our history. we've had this kind of political fighting throughout our history. it's the nature of our democratic system. one of the problems that i'm having with all of it right now is that there is a certain undercurrent of thought that is not helpful. when people want to attack the president, attack him. presidents are used to being attacked. but let's not go down low. >> give me one example, newt gingrich, former speaker of the house, has out a book "roots of obama's rage." i'll put it up on the screen for national view. what if obama is outside our
comprehension that only if you understand kenyan, anti-colonial behavior, can you begin to piece together his actions? that is the most accurate, predictive model for his behavior. this is the person that is fundamentally out of touch with how the world works, who happened to have played a wonderful con, as a result of which he is now president. >> i would tell my fellow americans, think carefully about what was just said. think carefully about some of the stuff coming across the blogs and airwaves. let's make a couple of points. one, the president was born in the united states of america. let's get rid of that one and go to the birther thing. let's attack him on policy. next, he is a christian, not a muslim. 20% of people say he is a muslim. 80% apparently did not believe he's a muslim. >> 80% of republicans believe he's muslim. >> surprise, surprise. 9.6, but if unemployment was down to 4%, only 5% would think he's muslim. they're attacking the president on this line.
he is not a muslim. he is a christian. we have to be careful when we take things like the book that's the source of all of this and suggest that somehow the president of the united states is channeling his dead father through some kenyan spirits. this doesn't make any sense. mr. gingrich does these things from time to time with a big, bold statement. he did it to a reverse racist and elena kagan, she ought to be taken off the nomination for supreme court justice. and he does it occasionally to make news and also to stir up dust, kind of like the -- >> what is this doing, general, to the party, in your view? >> i think it may appeal to certain elements of the party. it may appeal to the fringe elements of the party. but i don't think it appeals to all republicans and i don't think it appeals to the whole country. this kind of chatter, he's a kenyan channeler and all this sort of stuff, makes a lot of news. you will find governor palin and people on the right side of the political spectrum, along with
the tea party movement, really are getting a lot of attention, a lot of news and they're making a lot of noise. and they're making a lot of chatter throughout our political system. and that's fine. that's good. but i don't think anybody should grab that and think that's the entire country. >> do you think that republicans are poised to retake at least the house? and would you like to see them do that with the current slate of candidates and some of the ideas? >> i don't know. the pollsters would tell us that the republicans are poised to take over the house. that wouldn't break my heart. i wouldn't go into a funk. frankly, it might be good for the president to have the republicans owning one of the two bodies of our congress. >> how so? south flori . >> because then they have responsibility. you can't just say no to everything. you can't sit around, beating up the president. the president also has to, i think, shift the way in which he has been doing things. i think the american people feel that too many programs have come down. there are so many rocks in our napsack now that we're having
trouble carrying it. the president has to, like a razor blade, just go right after the single issue that is upper most in the minds of the american people, and that's employment. and he's done a lot with health care, with cap and trade, with education. and i understand the importance of all of that, but as far as the american people are concerned, the main attack is employment. >> but general, of course, you endorsed him in 2008 and he and his advisers will say, look, every day he has been in office, he has been working on this. you'll make a speech where you talk about moving from commanding to connecting. is the ability to connect his problem? >> i think he has lost some of his ability to connect during the campaign. it's not just me picking on the president but reflected in the polling. some of the anxiety and anger you see out there, i think, comes from a belief on the part of the american people, whether it's correct or incorrect, and the white house would say it's incorrect, that not enough attention -- his singular focus should be on unemployment. wall street got fixed. they're getting their bonuses
back. we fixed the auto industry. it's beginning to function but people are still seeing a 9.6% unemployment rate. they're losing their homes. they're homes are under water. mortgages can't be paid. short sales. they are anxious and they are expecting more out of the president. i think he has to do more with respect to reducing the deficit and also being careful about putting more and more programs, more and more rocks into that napsack. as part of that, he needs to focus on the business community. in my travels around the country, the business community is not that satisfied with the administration right now. so, i think the president is aware of all of this. his advisers are aware of all of this and i hope we will see him moving more vigorously in this direction. >> what about moving more vigorously to the center? could he do more to court republicans, to reach bipartisan compromise? >> i think he might consider that after this upcoming election. right now, everybody is in the trenches. everybody is, as they say in
godfather ii, they've all gone to the mattresses. we'll see what happens after the election. >> i want to talk about foreign policy. and ask you about afghanistan. back in 2001, on this program, after the invasion, you told tim russert, i don't expect to see u.s. combat troops there in afghanistan for any length of time as part of that international security force. times change. 2010, we're surging up to 100,000 forces. is this the right thing to do? is victory possible? >> we all hoped in 2001 that we could put in place an afghan government under president karzai that would be able to control the country, make sure al qaeda didn't come back and make sure that the taliban wasn't resurging. that didn't work out. and now i think that the strategy that has been adopted by president obama to give the country a surge of u.s. troops and nato troops and to do everything we can to build up the afghan army and the afghan national police so that they can take over, it's a strategy the
president said we'll start to move out of or at least bring to some culminating point next july when we start to reduce the level of troops we have there. my problem right now is that i can't get a good handle on how we're doing. some of these generals are saying we're making progress. we are clearing an area. but you don't really defeat the taliban by clearing an area. they move. so, i cannot tell how well it's going. my concern is that it also is resting on a very weak base with the karzai government, corruption in the karzai government and the karzai government, which has not really been effective in extending its control out beyond kabul. i think we have ten months between now and next july and i think the president will be facing a very, very difficult choice. you hear a lot of chatter now coming out of various places within the pentagon saying, well, it will take time. i don't know if the president will give them time beyond next july to start the draw down. not pull out next july, but start the draw down.
>> in iran, a path toward confrontation is possible. i wonder what you think is worse, an iran with a nuclear weapon or fallout of an attack on iran by either u.s. or israel to prevent it having a nuclear weapon. >> i don't think the stars are lining up for an attack on iran, even by israel alone or israel in concert with the united states or the united states alone. i don't think that's going to happ happen. i've heard nothing to suggest that we would be interested in doing that or think it useful, even though the option is always on the table. i think eventually we will have to deal with the reality that sanctions may not change the views of the iranians on these issues and, therefore, let's see if we can find a way to see if iran can have a nuclear program that is fixed on power production, low-level enrichment of their material so that it is not on the track to become a weapon. now, people will say that's naive. once you know how to do that,
you can then enrich up to weapons capability. i think if you take them at their word, trust and verify, reagan said. take them at their word and say they are not interested in a weapon, just power, put in place a set of sanctions that would be devastating to them if they violate that agreement, and then put in place an iaea inspection regime that will keep them below that and get russia and china and everybody else to agree with it, then you might have to live with an iran and you might be able to live with an iran that has a nuclear power capability, but rigid enforcement c constraints have been planned so they can't move up to a nuclear weapon. what could they do with a nuclear weapon compared to what we could do in return?
they are interested in remaining in power. the easiest way for them to lose power is to seriously threaten a weapon. >> an issue here at home that's very important to you is education. it's important to us at nbc news as well. we have a big meeting coming up, education nation that you and your wife, alma, would be addressing in a special presentation tuesday, september 28th. what do you plan to talk about? and how do you feel that this accountability movement as part of education reform has done at achieving results? >> we've seen quite a bit of improvement in the education reform effort in recent years. what alma and i will be focusing on when we appear on nbc -- and i thank nbc for hosting this -- is not just schools and teachers and the various aspects of the schools and education in schools, but how do you get kids ready for school? a child that is not read to in a home, a child who can't tell time, who can't recite his alphabet, a child who comes to school without having had early childhood rearing, without
having been taught how to mind their adults, how to pay attention, how to focus. education doesn't begin in kindergarten and first grade. it begins when a child can look up at a mother and father lovingly. part of our system of reform has to include what we do in those early years of life and not just fixing our schools. too often we ask our schools to be truant officers, our teachers to be truant officers because we give them children that are not ready to learn. if naer nthey're not ready to ly the third grade they know and by the sixth or seventh grade are thinking about dropping out and drop out by eighth or ninth grade. >> as you think about education policy, other important issues for the country and before you go, you, of course, endorsed president obama in 2008. are you prepared to endorse him for re-election? >> just as i did in 2008, when 2012 comes along, i will look at the needs of the country, the
situation as i see it and i will evaluate both candidates and see which one i think is best able to lead the country. in 2008, in my judgment, it was mr. obama. we had a country that was in recession, heading into depression. we had banks failing. we had a stock market collapsing. we were in difficulty. and i thought that he was best able to deal with that, with the advisers he was surrounding himself with. and we have stabilized our economy. i think that worked out. >> you described him as a transformational figure. has he lived up to that or do you find yourself disappointed? >> i think he is a transformational figure. some people don't like what he has done in transformation. it has caused him some difficulty. the fact of the matter is that he did put health care reform -- it's not perfect and it will have to be fixed over time. people are not happy with the health care reform but he did
it. millions of our fellow citizens have no insurance, especially children. i think he has done transformational work with respect to education and should get credit for that. but in other aspects, i think he has to focus on now governing. not worrying about the daily campaign problem or reacting to everything that comes across the cable news channel. he needs to sort of get above all that. mr. president, they will kick you like a dog, treat you like a dog but that's the nature of our system. america is a great country and this is the way we do our politics. >> general powell, thank you as always. >> thank you, david. coming next, former president bill clinton prepares to host leaders from around the world in the sixth annual clinton global initiative meeting. plus what's ahead for democrats this november? can president obama turn things around? and the nation's economy, 42nd president of the united states, william jefferson [ male announcer ] mix it.
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your work in haiti. i wanted to begin our political discussion with some reaction to you on hearing general powell with significant developments inside the republican party after this turbulent primary season. what do you make of it? >> first of all, i think that a lot of the voters who are voting for the tea party candidates have really good impulses. that is, they believe that for years and years and years people with wealth and power or government power have done well and ordinary people have not. that's true. they believe those in the republican party believe that they talked a good game about balancing the budget, but the debt was quadrupled in the 12 years before i became president and we paid down the debt for four years, paid down $600 billion on the national debt. and then a republican was in again and they doubled the debt
again. there's a good impulse there. we have come out of this recovery, to some extent, but 70% of our gdp growth has been regained from what was lost but ordinary people aren't feel iin it yet and they want to see some help for ordinary peep. i get that. the question is, what are the specifics? what really matters is what we're going to do. and right now, they have elected a lot of people who are articulate and attractive, but it's not clear what their specifics are. the gentleman that beat senator mccosckey said he thought unemployment benefits was unconstitutional. putting more people in unemployment line is not beneficial. do they, too, want to repeal the financial regulations that were just enacted to provide more oversight and require more capital before risk can be
undertaken so we don't get in this mess again? we need to know where they stand. >> what about christine o'donnell? does she ensure that a democrat holds that senate seat? in other words, are candidates like christine o'donnell actually helpful to the democratic party? >> karl rove says they are. i don't know. i can't tell you. she's a very attractive person, she speaks well on television. when you call her on something, she just says everybody is playing negative politics. where does she stand? does she want to repeal financial oversight bill? does she want to repeal the student loan forms, which allows people in the first time in history to pay back their loans as a percentage of their income so they never have to worry about dropping out of college? we fell from first to 12th in the young as far as graduating our young adults. they have a big agenda. they basically want to dismantle the federal authority, except when it comes to defense and
laying concrete and cut taxes for the wealthiest americans and turn power over to the kind of folks who got us in trouble in the first place. i want to know where they stand and we don't yet. >> what about some of the extreme statements you heard general powell respond very sharply to by former speaker of the house, newt gingrich, who you have done battle with and worked constructively with, when he talked to the national review about the president's anti-colonial views? >> keep in mind, after the 1994 election, one of the first things that speaker gingrich said was that hillary and i were the enemy of normal americans. every time something bad happened in america back then, he blamed it on the 1960s culture. even one woman who drowned her children and it turned out she had been abused by her stepfather, who was a local right-wing republican leader, he said nonetheless, they were infected by all those democratic bad things. that's just what he does when he's running. he's out there, playing
politics. it's his shtick. he knows better. he's a smart man. >> the clinton global initiative, your sixth annual meeting begins this week in new york. what is the focus? what do you hope to achieve this year? >> this year, we are focusing again on trying to empower women and girls in the united states and around the world. particularly around the world. 60% of the kids who don't go to school are girls. and we know that if women can get an education, if they have an opportunity in the workforce, a lot of these problems in very poor countries will be lessened. we're focused on bringing the benefits of private sector job growth to the challenges we face, including the energy challenges we face. not just around the world, but here in america. we've got a lot of commitments you'll find interesting, which will actually create jobs in this economy, in the united states. i try to get people to focus, to
go beyond their rhetoric and concerns to actually getting real things done. we are going to have two or more electric cars on display that will be manufactured in america, that will be creating jobs here. we're going to talk a lot about what will be done to generate economic opportunity around the world in poor countries and here in america. we're going to talk a lot about health care and how the built-up systems of health care so the u.s. and other healthy countries aren't just sending aid to poor countries forever but they can support themselves in health and education in the growing economy. and, you know, half of the people who come to our meeting from 90 countries are business people. about a third come from nongovernmental sector, philanthropists and organizations who do work on the ground. 20 former heads of state and people from academia and other places. we get a lot of people to make a commitment.
you'll see very specific emphasis on things that create economic opportunities, advance educational opportunity that is help women and girls who are left out and left behind in many poor places in the world. >> as you think about the world as president, you talk about globalization, interconnectedness of our global economy and you look at the poverty that this country is going through, poverty report that came out this week. more and more families going in to homeless shelters, 7 out of 10 people who are out of work. how does cgi address that domestic need and put it together with the global needs? >> well, this year, we're going to try to spend more time on the domestic needs by getting and generating support for people who are working to reach those folks with both jobs and with training. let me just give you an example that's really chilling to me. and this is what i wish we would have more talk about in elections in america. where is the jobs going to come from, the money, financing going
to come from? can people do them? for the first time in my lifetime, david, we are coming out of recession with posted job openings. that is, tomorrow, monday, you could get that job. these jobs have been offered. they're going up twice as fast as job hires. in this horrible economy. why? because of two things. first, over 10 million of our fellow citizens are living in homes that worth less than their mortgages. we still need more efforts to fix that. second, the biggest problem, is there's a skills mismatch. jobs that are being opened don't have qualified people applying for them. we need assistance to immediately train them to move into that job. i hope we'll have some commitments coming out on that. there are 5 million people who can go to work tomorrow if they were trained to do the jobs that are open and the unemployment rate in america would immediately drop from 9.6% to about 7% or 6.9%. that would have a huge impact on america's psyche, if no bank
makes another loan, if none of this other stuff goes on. we need to go to work on these things and get some action there. >> let me ask you about your work in haiti, which has been extensive. i spoke to you on this program back in january, you told me the mission in haiti wouldn't just be to rebuild but to build something stronger. here are some disturbing facts about the reality in haiti. reports estimate only 2% of the quake debris has been cleared, 1.5 million haitians are in tents, $11 billion has been pledged over the next decade but only 18% of $5 billion pledged over the next two years has been dispersed. why is the progress slow? >> first of all, on the housing, it's always the slowest thing. after we had hurricane andrew, right before i became president, people were still living in temporary housing in florida over a year after the quake happened -- after the hurricane happened. keep in mind, you had a third of this country totally devastated. it was the urban third, represented a loss of 70% of
their gdp. so, we can't move them out any quicker than that. secondly, all the rubble that is in the city is normally in places where the roads are broken and, thirdly, we haven't been given much money. a lot of people promised all this money. what i've done with this commission -- we have a commission that's half haitian and half donors and they have approved an enormous amount of new projects. we have to have the donors give the money. if the donors don't give the money, you can't do the work. we will be moving this rubble out. on october 6th, we're going to have a big housing expo down there to talk about building si single units and multi-family -- multi-story units. one of the things that i think will happen, a lot of these builders will come down and help us get rid of the rubble by crushing it on site and using it there or carting it away in a much more easier fashion. we'll have to destroy a lot of that rubble where it is.
we can't lift it up and move it away, as people would think. if we do, we can speed this up and get things going. the first new hotel announced there, two more hotels ready to be announced, thousands of people ready to go to work. if we build a road -- we have road approval now, and expand the airport in the northern part of the country. in the next six months, i think you'll see a dramatic acceleration if the election doesn't mess it up. they're having an election in the middle of all of this, highly unusual for a country in the throes of rebuilding. we'll get it all done. >> a year ago on this program, we met up in new york and i asked you about the prospect of another 1994. this is what you said then. do you worry about a repeat of '94, politically? >> there's no way they can make it that bad. >> is that still your view, one year later? >> do i still think that? >> yes. >> well, they can't make it that
bad but we can. that is, there is all this anger on the right. and they're very motivated to vote. but all the surveys show the registered voters are evenly divided. the problem is not just anger on the right. the problem is that a lot of people who voted for the democrats in 2006 and voted for president obama in 2008, many of them first-time voters, are kind of apathetic. they say, oh, well, this whole thing hasn't been fixed in a year and why should i go vote? they don't understand the differences. that's why i think it's really important for the debate to go beyond where it is now. where it is now, as the republicans said, we left them in a $3 trillion hole. they didn't fix it, throw them out. besides that, they're trying to have the government take over the country, which is not so. the democrats say, at least we stopped digging that hole and we're trying to build our way up. give us a couple more years. if it's not better then, you can throw us out. after all, you left the
republicans in for a long time. at least give us four years to try to fix this mess. what i would like to see them talk about now is two things. one, and most important, what are we going to do in the next two years and who is more likely to do it? where are the jobs are going to come from, small business, manufacturing and clean energy? where is the money to finance them? banks and corporations in america today have lots of money that they can invest right now. banks have $1.8 trillion in cash reserves uncommitted to loans. more than enough to get us out. and the third thing is the job training thing i mentioned earlier, how are they going to train people for the things that are there? then the democrats ought to talk about the republican agenda. they want to repeal financial reform. they want to repeal the best student loan reform in history. health care needs fixing, but if you repeal it, you'll go back to what we had this year, 2009, in the depths of that recession, health insurance profits went up 26%, profits, as they were saying we had to raise these
health premiums in a bad economy because our costs went up. that's the issue. if the democrats can focus on that and shake the voters out of their apathy, we'll do fine. if not, we won't. >> back in august of 2009, you spoke in front of a convention and this is what you said about health care reform. let's watch. >> i'm telling you, i don't care how low they drive support for this with misinformation, the minute the president signs the health care reform bill, approval will go up because americans are inherently optimistic. the minute. >> the white house said the same thing, mr. president, but it hasn't happened yet. >> well, i was wrong about that for two reasons. first of all, the benefits of the bill are spread out over three or four years. it takes a long time to implement it. and, secondly, there was -- there's been an enormal aous an highly effective attack on it.
forget about politics. let's talk about the facts here. the real reason that the interest groups want to repeal, not fix, health care is that they like the way it's going now. they're dumping people every year and making the government pick them up. we are spending 17.2% of our income on health care. none of our wealthy competitors spend more than 10.5%, yet our mortality rate is higher than theirs, our overall age expectancy is lower than theirs. our competitors every year, health system doesn't work as well. people that are getting the trillion dollars have a lot of money to spread all this misinformation. and, you know, last night i was with a 70-year-old neighbor of mine, who is a dedicated roman catholic layman and a doctor and he said i just don't know what i'll do if they repeal this
health care. we've never taken care of people. so, you can scare people about this, but you asked me about the politics. no one ever talks about the facts. why do they want to repeal health care? there is a requirement that 85% of all the premiums finally go to health care. and they would like to get rid of that. and i don't blame them, but it would be a terrible mistake. we need to fix health care, put more cost restraints in there, not repeal it. >> do you think president obama is as effective as he could be? your friend, james carville, says he enjoys policy a lot more than politics. does that have an impact on the enthusiasm or lack thereof of democrats? >> well, you know, i told the president -- last time i talked to him, i said i don't think they're saying very many things about you now that they didn't say about me in '94. and they're trying to create this atmosphere of attention deficit disorder and not look at what's happened. the president passed ay good
education reform, passed a good higher education reform. we've stopped the digging. there was an independent study last week that showed that saving the financial system, keeping the interest rate near zero by the fed and the stimulus have left us in better shape if those three things had not been done, 8.5 million more people would be unemployed. people just don't feel better. they're vulnerable and democrats need to say this is what we did. this is what happened. this is what we're going to do. their only chance here is to shake their own voters out of their apathy and respond to legitimate voter anger by saying what's going to happen the next two years? what are we going to do? if the election is about vote you're mad, we won't do very well. i try to talk about what are we going to do? what are we going to do? the president is beginning to do that. if we need to grow jobs in small
business, manufacturing and clean energy, he and the democrats are the only proponents for that and the other side is opposing small business initiative in the congress. we need to focus on what are we going to do? politics don't amount to anything. we need to put america back to work and we need specifics. >> about 30 seconds left. two quick personal things. some have wondered if you're looking a little too thin and worry about your health. are you okay? >> as far as i know, i'm fine. i've lost about -- yesterday, i was down 24 pounds from my maximum, but i went on a new diet. i'm exercising and i feel great. and i'm trying not to have another heart incident. you know, i had that stent after my open heart surgery. i'm trying to pursue a diet that will make sure i don't have another incident. >> all right. we will leave it there. mr. president, as always, thank you very much. good luck with cgi this week. >> thanks, david. up next, in our "meet the press" minute, a look back at long-time nbc news man and
occasional "meet the press" moderator, edwin newman. we'll look back at his first ever appearance on this program, july 10th, 1960, when he questioned presidential candidate john f. kennedy on the all-too-familiar topic of an economic recession. [ female announcer ] what if your natural beauty could be flawless, too? new aveeno positively radiant ... with scientifically proven soy complex and natural minerals give you sheer coverage instantly, then go on, to even skin tone in four weeks. new aveeno tinted moisturizers.
and we are back with our "meet the press" minute. >> we learned this week of the death of long-time nbc news man edwin newman, who appeared on all programs across the news division. he was the bureau chief in london, rome and paris and later moveded to new york, where he became a regular member of the "today" show team. newman also served as moderator of this program more than 40 times and as a frequent panelist as well. in his first-ever appearance on the program july 10th, 1960, he interviewed presidential candidate john f. kennedy at the site of the democratic convention in los angeles. you suggested spending $2.5 billion on defense. you said it would take some time for that money to be spent and make itself felt on the economy. do you conclude that a recession
is inevitable? >> i hope it is not. i just say this is a very -- period of, which i should say, ought to be an alarm bell to us all, it bears resemblance to the summer of 1957, but maybe more serious. there was a recession in '59, '54 and '58. we're talking about a slow down two years after the recession of '58. this administration cannot run on a program of domestic prosperity and if the real facts are pointed out. >> three years later, november 22nd, 1963, edwin newman would make the first announcement on radio of president kennedy's death. he died of pneumonia in ♪ every time it's so right ♪ well, it feels so good [ female announcer ] when you have a softer bath tissue,
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challenge the need for such heavy measures with olay. new regenerist micro-sculpting serum for firmer skin in 5 days. pretty heavy lifting for such a lightweight. [ female announcer ] olay regenerist. before we go, a programming note. tune in to cnbc tomorrow at noon. town hall event with president obama. the president will take questions about the economy and the direction of the country from a live studio audience. be sure to join us right here next week when "meet the press" kicks off nbc's education week, live from new york. that is all for